A few weeks ago I coerced a friend into letting me "borrow" his 14-year-old daughter to act as a Junior Editor for my novel, THE FANCY DEEP.
So glad he said "yes" for the following reasons:
1) Complexity - As a vintage "non-teen" (eh-hum) I'm always wondering about my audience and if I'm hitting the right level of complexity. It's SUCH a delicate balance. A junior editor will help you understand which parts of your book are complex enough, but not too complex. For example, I wondered if the political structure in THE FANCY DEEP would work in the mind of a teen without boring them to death. Only a teen can tell you.
2) Can She Relate? - This is a big, key question that, again, I think you need a teen to answer for you. Does my protagonist's emotional journey include too many "adult" neuroses that a teen can't relate to? Not the case. Megan totally understood Aysia'a journey and talked about what it would feel like to have lived her life. She also confirmed that 24 is not too old for your male romantic lead. : ) Whew.
3) Revealing Information to the Reader - Too fast, too much, not enough? I always wonder if the way I'm unraveling the "mysteries" of my books are good for the reader. I struggle with this because I know "who done it" from the beginning. One thing that I did with Megan was walk through the plot, almost scene by scene, asking her what she originally thought was going to happen at each point in the book. I came away feeling much better that I wasn't revealing too much too fast. Thanks Megan!
4) The Giggle-factor - If you ever feel like giving up, get a Junior Editor and just listen to them giggle when they talk about your story and characters. It will inspire you to keep going, no matter what it takes. The giggle factor is why I write. There's nothing better than giving a young girl brace-laden, grinning, giggly joy. : )